Two Gates — Two Ways

By J. L. Leifeste

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).


Gates are most notably a means of passage from one environment to another. In days past, large cities were protected by walls. Anyone who wanted the advantages and safety of the city must pass through one of its gates.

During the time of Christ, people were familiar with the importance of gates. If they were denied access through the gate of the city, they might not be able to buy things that they needed. They might lose important business. They might not see family and friends. They might be left defenseless in the path of an invading army. Throughout much of the ancient world, temples and other places of spiritual rituals and studies were inside city walls. If refused entrance, people would not be able to worship in places and by methods that they felt were necessary. Kings often welcomed important visitors or held public audiences at the city gate. Prophets and teachers often proclaimed their messages there. So gates were very significant.

Usually, a city had different sizes of gates in its walls. The largest gates were the most popular. They were the easiest to pass through and were the most highly traveled. Normally, a narrow gate was less used, but, in many cases, it indicated a special access. Such a gate might be considered more personal or more selective by the one entering as well as by the one allowing entrance.

In the above quote from Matthew 7, Jesus spoke those words to His disciples during the time of the old law, the law of Moses. But His teaching is timeless and is also meant for people of today. In certain ways, entering salvation in Christ is like passing through a narrow gate. How does a person pass through that gate to become a Christian? By believing (Jn. 8:24; Heb. 11:6), repenting (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30-31), confessing the belief (Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:9-10), and being immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-5). It is a special and personal passage, a change. It is moving from one spiritual environment to another (see 2 Cor. 5:17). In passing through that gate, we leave spiritual death behind us and receive spiritual life (Col. 2:12-13). We gain the advantages of being in the kingdom of Christ. There we find the nourishment, service, spiritual family, and defenses for the spiritual life.

Today, we can see many gates. There are still some cities that have gates. Some villages have gates. There are gates in front of some homes. Fenced areas have gates. You find gates at airports or train stations. And very often, there are gates along the borders of countries. There are two gates in the spiritual realm. But whether physical or spiritual, it might be said that a gate is a place of passage from one way of life to another.


Everyone is familiar with “ways,” whether they are roads or footpaths. Some ways may be jungle paths without a clear vision or knowledge of what may be lurking on either side. Some may be mountain roads with sudden, steep edges where an improper move can plunge you into danger or death. Some ways may be city roads where excessive mechanical or human traffic can hinder your progress or harm you.

There are two spiritual roads or ways. One is the broad and well-traveled way of sin and spiritual death (Rom. 3:10-20, 23). The other way is the path of spiritual life which is only through Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6; Heb. 10:19-22). Jesus said that the correct way was not a way of ease and carelessness. We must walk in Christ (Col. 2:6) with our feet wearing the preparation of the gospel (Eph. 6:15). This involves not only our initial obedience to His gospel, but also our faithfulness to His teaching (Matt. 7:21; 1 Cor. 15:58; 2 Thess. 1:8; Heb. 3:12-14).

We are told to walk as children of light with close attention to our travel (Eph. 5:8, 15). Christ left us an example to follow in His steps (Heb. 5:8-9; 1 Pet. 2:21-25). This requires that we study the New Testament to know the way we must travel (Jn. 8:31-32; 2 Pet. 1:5). We must keep moving forward (Phil. 3:12-17), placing our steps with precision. If we stumble, we must avoid falling, and we must re-set our steps upon that correct path (1 Jn. 1:7-10; 2 Pet. 1:10-11). There are two ways in the spiritual realm. Whether physical or spiritual, we must make certain we travel by the correct way and do so with care.

Isaiah mentioned gates and ways in a prophecy about Christ’s church, a spiritual metaphor concerning the city (hill) of Zion (Jerusalem). “Go through, go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway! Take out the stones, lift up a banner for the peoples! Indeed the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the world: ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, “Surely your salvation is coming; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.”’ And they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken” (Isa. 62:10-12). We must enter the narrow gate and follow the difficult way if we desire to be part of “The Holy People,” “The Redeemed of the Lord,” the “Sought Out,” and that “City Not Forsaken.”

There are two gates and two ways. Which gate have you passed through? Which way do you travel?